Defense attorney William Brennan called the Special Housing Unit of the federal detention center “the Seventh Circle of Hell.”
Seth Williams awoke in an isolated prison cell Friday, facing a future far grimmer than any he had imagined just 24 hours earlier, reports Philly.com. Having traded the title of district attorney to that of Inmate No. 75926-066, he ate breakfast in his 8-by-10 quarters at the Philadelphia Federal Detention Center, and steeled himself for the prospect of months all but cut off from the outside world. What comes next for the city’s former top prosecutor after his surprise guilty plea in a federal bribery trial depends largely on U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond. Some saw the judge’s move to revoke Williams’ bail, rare in white-collar criminal cases, as excessively severe but not unexpected from a judge known as one of the toughest on the federal bench. Others said Williams had no one to blame but himself after failing again and again to uphold the oaths he had sworn.
Defense lawyer Jack McMahon said, “He didn’t kill anyone, for Christ’s sake. I don’t think it was necessary to jail him now, and to be honest, I thought it was harsh.” Williams was booked into the Special Housing Unit with conditions akin to solitary confinement. It is routine for former law enforcement officers to be in the SHU, given the threat to their safety that other inmates might pose, but they likened the conditions to being housed in a dog kennel. Williams is confined 23 hours a day, will eat in his cell, and be allowed out for an hour of exercise. He can have one visitor a week and only one 15-minute phone call a month. “No one wants to be in a federal detention center, but if you land there, the last place you want to be is the SHU,” said defense attorney William Brennan. “It’s like the Seventh Circle of Hell.”